The Best Chardonnay Wine: 12 Wines To Enjoy From France and the United States

Finding the best Chardonnay wine to drink depends on a few key factors: budget, oak preference, food pairings, reviews, and what you like. Use this guide to the best Chardonnay from France and the United States. Once you’re more comfortable with Chardonnay wine, use the wine selection tips at the end of the post to find your next bottle.

The Best Chardonnay Wine In France: 5 Wines To Try

Travel By Glass was started with a focus on French wine, so that this guide will start with a French focus. The flavor profile of French Chardonnay generally has more mineral notes, and lime notes in comparison to American Chardonnay is known for its rich buttery flavors.

White Burgundy: The Home Of Outstanding French Chardonnay

In east-central France, white Burgundy is an excellent source of delicious wines made from white wine grapes, especially Chardonnay. As you browse for white Burgundy, remember that the Chardonnay grape will probably not be listed on the wine label. French wine labels emphasize geographical details instead of grape details. Rest assured that a white Burgundy is almost certainly made with the Chardonnay grape.

By the way, you may not see the word “Burgundy” on the wine bottle label. Instead, you are more likely to see Bourgogne, the French name for the region.

Domaine de Chantemerle Chablis

  • Wine Region: Burgundy, France
  • Retail Price: $20 according to Vivino

With 12.5% alcohol content, this dry white Burgundy white wine has an exciting flavor profile: citrus fruit and tree fruits like green apple and pear. The 2019 vintage has earned high ratings (i.e., 4 out of 5 stars) on Vivino.

Tip: Are you planning some wine travel to France? This winery is located a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Paris.

Louis Jadot Chardonnay

  • Wine Region: Burgundy, France
  • Retail Price: $18 per bottle, according to Wine-Searcher.

In the white Burgundy world, Louis Jadot enjoys a strong reputation. The flavor profile includes citrus notes and yellow apple. There is just a hint of oak flavor. The wine is aged in French oak barrels. Louis Jadot Wine is available at several price points as an extensive winemaker.

Daniel Dampt & Fils

  • Wine Region: Burgundy, France
  • Retail Price: $44 per bottle according to Vivino

Welcome to the category of premier cru! This white Burgundy wine has earned one of the highest quality designations in French wines. In particular, look for the 2013 and 2014 vintages as they have earned high praise from the wine community. The flavor profile for this wine includes important earthy notes like chalk and flint. Expect to enjoy pear and green apple flavors in your glass in terms of fruit. Whether you try this wine or another Cru Chablis, your quest to find the best Chardonnay wine should include Burgundy.

Olivier Leflaive

  • Wine Region: Burgundy, France.
  • Retail Price: $35 per bottle according to Wine-Searcher.

The wine has earned an average critic score of 88 out of 100 from wine critics. Produced in the Montagny appellation, this Premier Cru deserves a place in any list of affordable wines. Finding premier cru wines at this Price is exciting. IF you like this producer’s approach to the Chardonnay grape, there are also higher-end options like the Olivier Leflaive Montrachet Grand Cru, which has an average price of $911 per bottle!

Tip: Many French wines sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars per bottle. Ever wondered why French wines are expensive? There are eight reasons why French wines are expensive.

Langoreau Chassagne-Montrachet Les Perclos

  • Wine Region: Burgundy, France.
  • Retail Price: $54 per bottle, according to Drizly.

This white Burgundy is notable for a few reasons. The wines are harvested by hand with organic means. The St Aubin wine region of French is described as “a happy hunting ground for top quality white burgundy at drinkable prices,” according to Robert Rolls, a wine seller in the UK. With 13% alcohol content, the 2019 and 2017 vintages have earned high ratings. Wine reviewers highlight notes of lemon, apple, and grapefruit.

American Chardonnay: The 7 Best Chardonnay Wine From America

Since the 1976 Judgement of Paris, American Chardonnay has enjoyed worldwide respect. For the sake of brevity, this section will focus on Chardonnay wine made in California, like Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Russian River Valley Chardonnay. California wine country often uses American oak barrels, but French oak barrels are sometimes used. You could focus your hunt for the best Chardonnay wine in the United States for months (or years) and find plenty of excellent wines.

Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Hanzell Vineyards

  • Wine Region: Sonoma County, California
  • Retail Price: the average retail price is $68 per bottle

This winery is noted in Sonoma County for its high-quality white wine. The winery’s Chardonnay has earned an average wine score of 91 out of 100. In terms of food pairings, this wine matches particularly well with mushrooms. Wine Enthusiast also points out that Hanzell Vineyards was influential in using French oak barrels. The wine’s fruity flavors include green apple and lemon.

Peter Michael Winery: Ma Belle-Fille

  • Wine Region: Sonoma County, California
  • Retail Price: the average retail price is $139 per bottle (some bottles available for less than $100)

Described as buttery and complex by Wine-Searcher, this Sonoma County Chardonnay has earned impressive scores from wine enthusiast critics up to 94 out of 100. This winery has earned high recognition from Wine Spectator (it has ranked in the top 100 wines in three different years). This winery is an excellent choice for Chardonnay lovers because the winery has a portfolio of wines – there are six different Chardonnays and red wines available (which makes it easier to do pairings and find out what cheese with Chardonnay is best for you).

Aubert Wines Lauren Vineyard Chardonnay

  • Wine Region: Sonoma County, California
  • Retail Price: the average retail price is $234 per bottle (some bottles are available for less than $200 per bottle).

Ever since this wine earned recognition from Wine Spectator in 2006, this wine has been well regarded. While it is one of the most expensive bottles in the region, it offers an excellent buttery style. According to the winery, the estate vineyards that produce this wine are named after the wine maker’s daughter Lauren. The flavor profile includes almond notes and balanced acidity.

Russian River Valley Chardonnay

The Russian River Valley area of California is located in Sonoma County. Many wine bottle labels from the area emphasize the Russian River Valley origin, so I have called it out as a separate section. Add the Russian River to your shortlist if you have already tried Napa Valley wines.

Ramey Chardonnay

  • Wine Region: Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
  • Retail Price: the 2019 vintage is sold for $42 per bottle from Ramey Wine Cellars.

This American Chardonnay is aged in 15% new French oak barrels for 12 months after being harvested. The wine is harvested from excellent sites. Ramey Wine Cellars is a relatively new winemaker – they started Chardonnay production in 1996. Since it is a newer winery, it may not be as well known. Yet, Wine Enthusiast recognized the wine as an “Editor’s Choice” for the 2019 vintage.

Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay

  • Wine Region: Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
  • Retail Price: the average price is $33 per bottle, according to Wine-Searcher for the 2018 vintage.

This American Chardonnay offers an appealing value for money: it is available for less than $40, and it has earned a critical review score of 95 out of 100. Made in a buttery style, the flavor profile includes citrus fruit (i.e., lemon) and grapefruit. Instead of bright acidity, this wine offers tangy acidity. The wine has alluring aromas of honeysuckle and brioche, according to the winery website.

Napa Valley Chardonnay

No guide to American Chardonnay would be complete without covering Napa Valley. The region is home to many of the best American wines.

Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay

  • Wine Region: Napa Valley, California
  • Retail Price: the average price is $69 per bottle, according to Vivino.

This Napa Valley Chardonnay is considered excellent value for money. Like many other American Chardonnays, the flavor profile includes a buttery style. In terms of fruity flavors, citrus notes are front and center, including lemon and grapefruit. In addition, some reviewers tasted stone fruit in their tasting notes.

Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay

  • Wine Region: Napa Valley, California
  • Retail Price: the average price is $z per bottle according to $39 according to Vivino.

I decided to include this Napa Valley Chardonnay because the 2020 vintage was an editor’s pick by Vivino. The wine has earned a high rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on more than 500 wine enthusiast ratings. If you like hints of vanilla in your wine (or more than a hint!), this Napa Valley wine is for you. The flavor profile is strong on oaky notes such as caramel, vanilla, and butter.

Now that you know the best Chardonnay wine, you probably still have questions like what if you can’t find one of the above suggestions? The solution is simple. Use the following tips

How To Find The Best Chardonnay For You

Ask a wine enthusiast for their view on the best Chardonnay wine, and you will get many different answers. Some will point to the most famous wine. Others interested in wine travel will share a story from their visit to wine country. All of these wine enthusiast perspectives have merit.

My approach to choosing the best Chardonnay wine is based on the following principles:

Start With Your Wine Budget

There are many excellent wines globally, and we only have so much money to spend on those excellent wines. Fortunately, there is a range of styles made at different prices. This guide has included a mix of affordable wines and “bucket list” pricey wines.

Affordable Wines Price Tip

Affordable Chardonnays are often available for less than $30 per bottle. This is a great place to start as a wine enthusiast. If you are focused on affordable wines, avoid seeking out cru Chablis and other high-end French wines because it is challenging to find those wines at a low price.

High Priced Wines Tip

As you develop your taste as a wine enthusiast, you might want to go beyond the usual popular wine options. In this case, there is a wide range of delicious wines above $50. If you happen to live close to wine country, you can sometimes get excellent wines at a great price by buying directly from the winery.

Oak Preference

In searching for the best Chardonnay wine, it is best to consider two subcategories of white wine: unoaked Chardonnay and oaked Chardonnay. Some people – like your correspondent – loved the creamy texture offered by a well-oaked Chardonnay. Oak isn’t for everyone, however. There are many delicious wines made that see little or no oak.

If you are a beginner wine enthusiast, you might not know if you prefer unoaked Chardonnay or oaked Chardonnay. In that case, try both types of white wine at home to see which you like best.

Experiment With Different Food Pairings

Matching wine with the right food is one of the best ways to enhance your wine experience. For example, it is best to avoid highly acidic foods like olives and tomatoes. Instead, combine your Chardonnay with seafood like salmon or chicken. If you have a heavily oaked Chardonnay, a highly oaked cheese is a good pick.

As you get more experienced with the different wide range of Chardonnay, pay more attention to acidity. Natural acidity is present in all wines, but it varies considerably. Sometimes you will encounter a zippy acidity, a vibrant acidity, or a juicy acidity. A wine with a significant amount of natural acidity can be the perfect drink for sunny afternoons when you need relief from the heat.

Use Wine Reviews

Reviews are a helpful resource e to sort through the world of affordable Chardonnays. Using websites like Wine-Searcher and Vivino can be very helpful. If you’re not quite ready to buy a subscription, signing up for wine enthusiast newsletters can also be helpful.

Discover More Wine Regions And White Wines

We’ve focused mainly on a handful of wine regions in this post. That doesn’t mean that you can only find the best chardonnay wine in France and America. Outstanding Chardonnays are made in other regions like the Santa Maria Valley, the Central Coast, and the Margaret River. That’s not all – you can also take a look at South Africa or stick to the United States and see how Willamette Valley produces Chardonnay.

If you’ve had enough Chardonnay for now, why not branch out and try some different white wines? To explore Sauvignon Blanc, start with this guide to good Sauvignon Blanc from France and New Zealand.

The Best Chardonnay Wine: 12 Wines To Enjoy From France and the United States

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